Lifestyle

Social group caters to local atheist and agnostic parents

Social networking is a tool that has become easier to use with Web sites like Meetup.com.

Suzanne Waller, 31, is a resident of Federal Way and member of the popular Web site. As a full-time homemaker, Waller felt a need to connect with other parents in her area. Her involvement with the Federal Way Moms led her to found her own parent group last June.

The Federal Way Atheists/Agnostic Parents is a group of 37 members. While there are other atheist groups in the Puget Sound area, this is the only group specifically for parents.

Only 11 of those members live in Federal Way with the rest coming from surrounding areas, Waller said. Waller believes this is evidence of the need for such a group.

Group gatherings are typically held monthly in members’ homes. Waller stresses that the group is not politically or otherwise motivated.

Growing up in a strictly religious home, Waller said she struggled with her own beliefs for several years before becoming an atheist. Moving to the Puget Sound, she was comforted by how accepting most people were of her beliefs and found it “refreshing,” Waller said.

“There’s not an overwhelming oppression here,” Waller said.

The majority of members are parents of pre-school age children. The topic of how to raise their children to be positive free-thinkers is something they lean on one another to explore, Waller said. However, that is not their focus during meetings.

Waller said that in many gatherings, the matter of religion doesn’t even come up. The meetings are simply a time for parents to socialize and share ideas without the worry of judgment for religious beliefs.

“I’m not a debater,” Waller said.

Members are all over the scope of non-theist beliefs, with some being very outspoken about their views, while others tend to keep views to themselves outside of the group.

Waller sees herself as somewhere in the middle. While she has come to terms with her beliefs, she doesn’t announce them as an ice-breaker.

“I’m not a confrontational person, so I don’t try to ruffle any feathers,” Waller said.

Contact writer: belliott@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Anyone interested in learning more can find the group on meetup.com The Federal Way Atheist/Agnostic Parents Meetup Group is listed in the Parent and Family section.

Meetup.com is where anyone is able to create a group of like-minded people in their own community. Groups range from arts and crafts to entertainment, education and politics. With more than 4 million members, the Web site is making its goal of revitalizing local communities possible for people from all walks of life.

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